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  • Cited by 7
  • Print publication year: 2005
  • Online publication date: June 2012

24 - Multimedia Learning of History



This chapter discusses how multimedia learning environments have been used in history instruction and when learning with multimedia is effective. For the purposes of this chapter, multimedia learning is defined as acquiring knowledge in a domain through interacting with an educational environment that presents information using multiple sources. Media here are defined as channels by which information is accessed that differ based on the document, source (e.g., newspaper, biography, political speech, textbook), or mode of communication (e.g., texts, sounds, pictures, video, animation, maps, charts, graphs). Multimedia learning environments are used in history instruction for two main purposes: (1) multiple-source environments attempt to make history learning more like the activities of real historians, and (2) graphics or archives are often used to make the context of the time under question more engaging, vivid, or personally relevant for the learner.


Multimedia learning usually refers to computer-based learning tools such as CD-ROMs or the Internet in which text, pictures, animation, sounds, movies, and other media can be combined in the presentation of information. However, this is a somewhat narrower interpretation of multimedia than is appropriate in the case of learning about history. The usual history textbook combines texts of historical narratives with maps, charts, timelines, pictures, diagrams, and paintings to convey the historical facts or events. Furthermore, history teachers often supplement reading assignments and lectures with films or documentaries based on historical events. Therefore, even traditional textbook or classroom instruction in history can be considered multimedia.

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